Contract Forecast: Matt Forte

Contract Forecast: Matt Forte
Untitled Document

One of the most consistent players in the league, and certainly for the Chicago Bears, over the past 7 season, has been running back Matt Forte. But with an expiring contract, and a Bears team that struggled mightly to post wins in 2014, Forte's future is certainly in question. Our analysis below will be unlike any we've done in the past, as it was determined fairly early on in the process, that Forte himself is unlike any other running back in the league over the course of the past two seasons. While his rushing production has been consistently average (1,110 yards, 5 TDs, Top 25 Pro Football Focus rating), his receiving production has been more than double of any running back in the game.

So our projection for Forte will be two-fold. At first, we'll assess just the rushing production against the top running backs in the league. We'll then assess his receiving statistics against a relevant set of wide receivers in the league, heavily weighing down his targets and receptions (assuming many were short dink and dunk type plays). From there we'll be given two separate production percentages, and two separate base financial values. Averaging these two will provide us with a forecast for the current value of Matt Forte.

Comparable Running Backs
Forte is now 29 years old, and will hit 30 in the middle of the upcoming season. We've selected variable running backs that have similar skillsets who have signed a recent contract. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Adrian Peterson  3 $42,000,000 $14,000,000 30
DeMarco Murray  5 $40,000,000 $8,000,000 27
Marshawn Lynch 2 $24,000,000 $12,000,000 28
LeSean McCoy 5 $40,000,000 $8,000,00 26
Averages 3.75 $36,500,000 $10,500,000 27.75

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Running Backs in the NFL


We'll adjust the above contracts up/down as though each were signed at the age of 29 years old. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
3 $34,000,000 $11,333,333

Statistical Analyzations: Rushing
Now let's analyze these players statistically, in terms of rushing, in the two years prior to signing their second contract. We'll compare Games Played, Rushing Attempts/Game, Rushing Yards/Game, Rushing TDS, and Fumbles/Game.
Player Games/YR RUSH ATT/G RUSH YDS/G RUSH TDS/YR FUM/YR
Adrian Peterson  (13, MIN) 14 19.93 90.43 .71 .36
DeMarco Murray (13-14, DAL) 15 20.33 98.97 .73 .27
Marshawn Lynch (13-14, SEA) 16 18.16 80.09 .78 .22
LeSean McCoy (13-14, PHI) 16 19.66 91.44 .44 .16
Averages 15.25 19.52 90.23 .67 .25
Matt Forte (13-14, CHI) 16 17.31 74.34 .47 .13
% Difference 4.92% -11.32% -17.61% -29.85% 48%
AVERAGE PRIME: -1.172%
MEDIAN PRIME: -11.32%

As our prime percentages show, Forte is a bit below the fold in nearly every category. His ability to stay on the field, and keep the ball off the ground balance him out a bit in terms of the running game. We'll factor our average and median prime rushing percentages below.


Comparable Slot Wide Receivers
We've selected variable slot wide receivers who have signed a recent contracts. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Victor Cruz 5 $43,000,000 $8,600,000 26
Julian Edelman 4 $17,000,000 $4,250,000 27
Vincent Jackson  5 $55,555,555 $11,111,111 29
Marques Colston 5 $36,300,000 $7,260,000 28
Averages 3.25 $24,470,696 $8,156,899 27.5

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Wide Receivers in the NFL


We'll adjust the above contracts up/down as though each were signed at the age of 29 years old. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
3 $27,265,578 $9,088,526

Statistical Analyzations: Receiving
Now let's analyze these players statistically, in terms of receiving, in the two years prior to signing their second contract. We'll compare Targets (Balls Thrown At)/G, Receptions/G, Receiving Yards/G, and Receiving Touchdowns.
Player Tar/G REC/G REC YDS/G REC TDS
Victor Cruz (11-12, NYG) 8.59 5.28 82.41 .59
Julian Edelman(12-13, NE) 7.32 5.04 51.64 .36
Vincent Jackson (10-11, SD) 6.62 3.52 64.48 .57
Marques Colston (10-11, NO) 8.24 5.66 74.66 .52
Averages 7.69 4.88 68.3 .51
Matt Forte (13-14, CHI) 7.03 5.53 43.75 .22
% Difference -8.58% 13.32% -35.94% -56.86%
AVERAGE PRIME: -13.7%
MEDIAN PRIME: -8.58%

As expected Forte is well below the bar here, notably in receiving yards and touchdowns. However it's important to note that he's targeted nearly as much as these slot receivers. We'll include these receiving percentages into our assessment below.


Financial Comparisons: Rushing vs. Receiving
When factoring in our AVERAGE and MEDIAN prime percentages to the base contract values, we're given:
Analysis Low Value AAV High Value AAV
Running Back Analysis $9,928,000  $10,982,680
Wide Receiver Analysis $7,843,761 $8,308,730 
Averages $8,885,880 $9,645,705
Results

Length of the Contract
At nearly 30 years old, we'll assume a lower term here - especially if he's allowed to hit free agency next March. A 3 year deal seems appropriate.

Value of the Contract
Running backs are a nearly impossible market to value right now. The Adrian Petersons and Marshawn Lynchs have contracts way ahead of their colleagues, simply because they were given restructured versions of contract dollars already owed to them. Teams have shown that it takes a very special player to break the running back market, while the spectacular year from DeMarco Murray in 2014 warranted him only $8M per year. With 1900 yards from scrimmage and 10 combined TDs in 2014, Forte showed he is still an elite weapon when the offense runs through him.

It may benefit the Bears to allow Forte to play out his current contract, providing a better sense for any decline that may be forthcoming before deciding to keep him in-house, or let him hit the open market.

Low Value (HOMETOWN DISCOUNT)
Utilizing our combined Low Value Assessment we're forecasting Forte as the 4th highest average paid RB:
3 years, $26,657,640 | $8,885,880 per year | $23,800,000 guaranteed
High Value (MAX-VALUE DEAL)
Utilizing our combined High Value Assessment we're forecasting Forte as the 3rd highest average paid RB:
3 years, $28,937,115 | $9,645,705 per year | $27,000,000 guaranteed

We'll split the difference to offer the best-value forecast for Forte's next contract:
Spotrac's Prediction: 3 years, $27,800,000

Average Salary: $9,266,666

Guaranteed Money: $13,000,000 (47%)



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